Prudential Assurance Co Ltd v London Residuary Body and Others: HL 16 Jul 1992

The parties signed a memorandum of agreement to let a strip of land from 1930 until determined as provided, but the only provision was that the lease would continue until the land was needed for road widening and two months’ notice was given. The land was never used for road widening and notice to terminate was given on the basis that it was a periodic tenancy.
Held: A lease on these terms was of uncertain duration and therefore void. The land was held instead on a yearly tenancy created by the payment and acceptance of rent.
Lord Templeman said that there had been ‘500 years of judicial acceptance of the requirement that a term must be certain applies to all leases and tenancy agreements’ and ‘When the agreement in the present case was made, it failed to grant an estate in the land. The tenant however entered into possession and paid the yearly rent of pounds 30 reserved by the agreement. The tenant entering under a void lease became by virtue of possession and the payment of a yearly rent, a yearly tenant, holding on the terms of the agreement so far as those terms were consistent with the yearly tenancy.’ and
‘Now it is said that when in the present case the tenant entered pursuant to the agreement and paid a yearly rent he became a tenant from year to year on the terms of the agreement including clause 6 which prevents the landlord from giving notice to quit until the land is required for road widening. This submission would make a nonsense of the rule that a grant for an uncertain term does not create a lease and would make nonsense of the concept of a tenancy from year to year because it is of the essence of a tenancy from year to year that both the landlord and the tenant shall be entitled to give notice determining the tenancy.’

Lord Templeman, Lord Griffiths, Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Mustill
Gazette 16-Sep-1992, [1991] UKHL 10, [1992] 3 All ER 504, [1992] 3 WLR 279, [1992] 2 AC 386
Law of Property Act 1925 1(1) 205(1)(xxvii)
England and Wales
OverruledAshburn Anstalt v Arnold (1) CA 27-Oct-1987
Houses in Kensington were let together for a term of just over 50 years. There was just one title for the headlease. Informal subleases of parts had been granted granted at no rent. After several dealings with the titles, and the plaintiffs came to . .
CitedSay v Smith 1563
A lease for a term certain purported to add a term which was uncertain.
Held: The lease was valid only as to the certain term. Anthony Brown J said:’Every contract sufficient to make a lease for years ought to have certainty in three . .
CitedDoe d. Rigge v Bell 1793
The parties entered into a parole agreement for a seven year lease did not comply with the Statute of Frauds. The tenant nevertheless entered and paid a yearly rent.
Held: He was tenant from year to year on the terms of the agreement. Lord . .
CitedDoe dem Warner v Browne 1807
The parties agreed a lease at a rent of andpound;40 per annum. The landlord was not to raise the rent nor turn out the tenant ‘so long as the rent is duly paid quarterly, and he does not expose to sale or sell any article that may be injurious to W . .
CitedCheshire Lines Committee v Lewis and Co 1880
A weekly tenancy agreement contained an undertaking by the landlord not to give notice to quit until he needed to pull down the demised buildings.
Held: Lush J applied Warner v Browne saying: ‘This reasoning applies with at least equal force . .
ConfirmedLace v Chantler CA 1944
The freeholder purported to let the house to the tenant ‘for the duration of the war’
Held: The term was uncertain, and therefore no lease was created.
Lord Green MR said: ‘The intention was to create a tenancy and nothing else. The law . .
OverruledIn re Midland Railway Co’s Agreement, Charles Clay and Sons Ltd v British Railways Board CA 1971
The lease agreement created a term for six months from 10 June 1920 and was to continue from half year to half year until determined. It was to be determined by three months’ written notice given by either party to the other provided that the . .

Cited by:
CitedFerrishurst Ltd v Wallcite Ltd CA 30-Nov-1998
A person in actual occupation of registered land at time of transfer can enforce his rights against the transferee. A sub-underlessee in occupation of part could enforce an option to purchase against the freeholder acquiring intermediate registered . .
CitedMexfield Housing Co-Operative Ltd v Berrisford ChD 5-Oct-2009
The claimant appealed against refusal of a summary order for possession of the defendant tenant’s house for arrears of rent. The arrears arose through delay in payment of Housing Benefit, and all arrears had been cleared by the hearing of the . .
CitedJoseph v Nettleton Road Housing Co-Operative Ltd CA 16-Mar-2010
The respondent was a mutual housing co-operative, and the claimant its tenant. The tenant kept a dog in the premises without the consent of the other tenants in breach of the terms of the lease. A notice to quit was served on him. His tenancy was . .
CitedBerrisford v Mexfield Housing Co-Operative Ltd SC 9-Nov-2011
The tenant appealed against an order granting possession. The tenancy, being held of a mutual housing co-operative did not have security but was in a form restricting the landlord’s right to recover possession, and the tenant resisted saying that it . .
CitedBerrisford v Mexfield Housing Co- Operative Ltd CA 15-Jul-2010
The Society ran a mortgage rescue scheme, buying properties from borrowers unable to maintain mortgage repayments, and letting them back. As a co-operative, the former owners would become members. Because it was a mutual housing co-operative, the . .
CitedChaudhary v Yavuz CA 22-Nov-2011
The court was asked ‘whether and if so how an easement arising informally and not protected by any entry at the Land Registry can be effective against a purchaser of the land over which the easement would be exercised.’ The parties respectively . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.85066